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The Birth of a Nation
The Most Stupendous and Fascinating
Motion Picture Drama Created
in the United States
Founded on Thomas Dixon's Story
PRODUCED UNDER THE PERSONAL DIRECTION OF
D. W. GRIFFITH
Scenario by D.W.GRIFFITH and FRANK E.WOODS
Music by JOSEPH CARL BREIL
Photography by G. W. BITZER
EPOCH PRODUCING CORPORATION
H. E. AITKEN, President
THE EPOCH PRODUCING CORPORATION
420 LONGACRE BUILDING
NEW YORK CITY
D. W. GRIFFITH, Presents
THE BIRTH OF A NATION
AN HISTORICAL DRAMA IN TWO ACTS
Note. — There will be an intermission of eight minutes between Acts I. and II.
CAST OF CHARACTERS
COL. BEN CAMERON HENRY WALTHALL
MARGARET CAMERON, the elder sister MIRIAM COOPER
FLORA, the pet sister MAE MARSH
MRS. CAMERON JOSEPHINE CROWELL
DR. CAMERON SPOTTISWOODE AIKEN
WADE CAMERON, the second son J. A. BERINGER
DUKE CAMERON, the youngest son MAXFIELD STANLEY
MAMMY, their faithful old servant JENNIE LEE
HON. AUSTIN STONEMAN, Leader of the House RALPH LEWIS
ELSIE, his daughter LILLIAN GISH
PHIL, his elder son ELMER CLIFTON
TOD, the younger son ROBERT HARRON
JEFF, the blacksmith WALLACE REED
LYDIA BROWN, Stoneman's mulatto housekeeper MARY ALDEN
SILAS LYNCH, mulatto Lieutenant-Governor GEORGE SEIGMANN
GUS, a renegade negro WALTER LONG
ABRAHAM LINCOLN JOSEPH HENABERY
JOHN WILKES BOOTH RAOUL WALSH
GEN. U. S. GRANT DONALD CRISP
GEN. ROBT. E. LEE HOWARD GAYE
NELSE, an old-fashioned negro WILLIAM DeVAULL
JAKE, a black man faithful unto death WILLIAM FREEMAN
STONEMAN'S SERVANT THOMAS WILSON
Cabinet Members, Generals, Military Aides and Attaches, Secretaries, Senators, Representa-
tives, Visitors, Soldiers, Abolitionists, Ku Klux Klansmen, Plantation Crowds and Mobs.
THE GRIFFITH TRADE MARK
All pictures produced by David W. Griffith have the name Griffith in the upper corners
of the film and the initials D. G. on the lower border line. There are no exceptions to this
rule. Mr. Griffith has several new productions under way which will be announced from time
to time. His next big production will be "The Mother and the Law," a story of modern life
Entire production under the personal direction of D. W. GRIFFITH
Photography by G. W. BITZER
Music by JOSEPH CARL BREIL
(Copyright 1915 by Theodore Mitchell
"The most beautiful picture eoer put on canvas, the
finest statue ever carved, is a ridiculous caricature
of real life compared with the flickering shadow
of a tattered him in a backwoods nickelodeon."
^^]fl 1 1 K ii bo ve assertion was made by Dr. E. E. Slosson, of Columbia In
in an article entitled "The Birth of a New Art" which was published m
the Independent of April 6th, 1914.
On April 1st, 1914, David Wark Griffith, the subject of this sketch,
set to work laying the ground plans for a great picture which has since
been introduced to the world under the name "The Birth of a Nation."
Neither Dr. Slosson nor Mr. Griffith knew of the other's mental processes. While
one was proclaiming the dawn of a new era the other was at work upon the long looked-
for American play. It is rare to find prophesy and fulfillment so closely linked together.
No discussion of the relationship of motion picture art to contemporary life can be
complete without a knowledge of what D. W. Griffith has done to develop and enlarge
the artistic standards of motion photography. There is in his work a distinctive touch
of individual craftsmanship; an all embracing attention to detail which has come to be
known as the Griffith art.
No form of expression seeking to reveal t e truths and beauties of life has ever made
such progress within a given lapse of time as motion photography. Perhaps this is be-
cause motion is the essence of realism and fife itself is but a part of the impulse of the
In developing the dramatic possibilities of the screen dramas Griffith has shown
that he is not only a poet. He is a master technician. His accomplishments are the
major part of the history of motion pictures in America. He is the creator of practi-
cally every photographic and dramatic effect seen today. He is responsible for nearly
every innovation of the past decade. He was the first producer to bring rhythm and
perspective into motion pictures and make them the background of his story.
Griffith's poetic imagination stretches across dreamy dales, through swaying trees,
back to distant mountains with their snow crested tops blazing in the sunlight, it reaches
across the lapping waves of a deep blue sea to what seems the end of the universe. From
one of these far away vistas he brings forth a young girl and shows her progress until she
comes so close you see a tear drop quiver on her eyelid before it falls to her cheek. This
you see so clearly that through her eyes you read her innermost emotions. It seems
almost too intimate, too realistic.
And then in a flash you see great plains and on them nations grappling in their death
throes and worlds battling for military supremacy. Such sequences and multiplicities
of action appear quite simple now, yet they had to be carefully thought out. We say
with pride that an American invented the technique required to produce them.
When Griffith began directing picture plays the idea of showing human beings
otherwise than full length was regarded as rank heresy. He created the "close up."
When he first photographed the faces of his actors, withholding everything not essential
to the needed effect, audiences that now applaud, showed their disapproval by stamp-
ing their feet upon the floor. Critics said his characters did not walk into the pictures,
but swam in without legs or arms. He next conceived the idea of the "switch back."
By this device he shows a character under certain circumstances and the next instant
by switching the action back to something seen before he makes you see what the char-
acter is thinking of. An improvement upon the original idea he accomplished by the
slow fading in and out of mystical or symbolic figures which make you see what other
characters are thinking of, thus avoiding the harsh jumping from one scene to another
which had been the rule before.
While Griffith was making these mechanical improvements he was keenly alive to
the needs of improved screen acting. No ten other men in America have developed so
many film favorites. He is a born director of people, and can discover latent talent in
a camera recruit quicker than any other man in the world. He loves to work with raw
material and see a young player blossom into the full power of poetic expression. His
aim has been to produce natural acting. The old jumpy-see-sawing of the arms and
pawing of the air, mis-named pantomime, has disappeared under his watchful care. In
less than six years Griffith has made screen acting a formidable rival of that seen on the
These developments are but details of the forward movement of the art of motion
photography. The old stilted forms have passed. The motion picture artist must hence-
forth be capable of taking infinite pains. He must have the poetic imagination and the
technique to give expression to his dreams. With these requisites he becomes the super-
artist of the new movement. This Griffith, whose vision leaps to the furtherest ends
of the world of fancy — pausing here to note the smile in the eyes of Youth; then to see
the shadow of sinister crime fall across the vision of unsuspecting Purity; picturing now
a tear on a child's cheek; now a nation in the throes of war, while roses bloom and pas-
toral scenes, such as Corot never dreamed of reproducing, form the background. These
are the things that Griffith's art shows as no drama of the spoken word could hope to do.
A new epic force illuminates human vision and human figures alive with the instincts
and purposes of life obey the will of the super-artist.
This pioneer who has done so much to show the possibilities of this new art is un-
responsive when it comes to his personal life. He thinks only of his work. He holds
that people are interested in the deeds that men do, rather than in who the men are.
We asked Mr. Griffith for a biographical sketch. He answered that he was born in Ken-
tucky, that he grew up in a house like most boys; started out after his school and col-
lege days to find his place in the world, and that since he went into the business of pro-
ducing pictures he has lived most of the time under his hat.
A TRIBUTE TO
"THE BIRTH OF A NATION"
HEN a great achievement of human genius is put boforo us, we can
become partners in it in a way by applauding it with something of the
enthusiasm that wont into its making. It is that sort of collaboration
that I am unpolled to attempt in what follows.
When I saw "The Birth of a Nation" the first time, I was so over-
whelmed by the immensity of it that I said :
"It makes the most spectacular production of drama look like the work of village
amateurs. It reduces to childishness the biggest things the theatre can do."
For here were hundreds of scenes in place of four or five; thousands of actors in
place of a score; armies in landscape instead of squads ot supers jostling on a platform
among canvas screens. Here was the evolution of a people, the living chronicle of a
conflict of statesmen, a civil war, a racial problem rising gradually to a puzzle yet un-
solved. Here were social pictures without number, short stories, adventures, romances,
tragedies, farces, domestic comedies. Here was a whole art gallery of scenery, of human-
ity, of still life and life in wildest career. Here were portraits of things, of furniture, of
streets, homes, wildernesses; pictures of conventions, cabinets, senates, mobs, armies;
pictures of family life, of festivals and funerals, ballrooms and battlefields, hospitals
and flower-gardens, hypocrisy and passion, ecstasy and pathos, pride and humiliation,
rapture and jealousy, flirtation and anguish, devotion and treachery, self-sacrifice and
tyranny. Here were the Southrons in their wealth, with their luxury at home, their
wind-swept cotton fields; here was the ballroom with the seethe of dancers, here were
the soldiers riding away to war, and the soldiers trudging home defeated with poverty
ahead of them and new and ghastly difficulties arising on every hand.
Here was the epic of a proud brave people beaten into the dust and refusing to
The pictures shifted with unending variety from huge canvasses to exquisite minia-
tures. Now it was a little group of refugees cowering in the ruins of a home. A shift
of the camera and we were looking past them into a great valley with an army fighting
its way through.
One moment we saw Abraham Lincoln brooding over his Emancipation Procla-
mation; another, and he was yielding to a mother's tears; later we were in the crowded
theatre watching the assassin making his way to and from his awful deed.
The leagues of film uncoiled and poured forth beauty of scene, and face and express-
ion, beauty of fabric and attitude and motion.
"The Birth of a Nation" is a choral symphony of light, light in all its magic; the
sun flashing through a bit of blown black lace and giving immortal beauty to its pattern;
or quivering in a pair of eyes, or on a snow-drift of bridal veil, or on a moonlit brook or
a mountain side. Superb horses were shown plunging and rearing or galloping with a
tout-quickening glory of sjxwi down road and lane and through flying waters. Now
came the thrill of a charge, 01 oi a plunging steed caught hack 00 its haunches in | Mid-
den arrest. Now followed the terror of a bestial niol), the hurrah of a retOUe,
filled with panic and with carnival. Life is motion and hero \\;is the beautiful moving
monument of motion.
"What could the Btage give to rival all this?" I thought. "What could the novel
give? or the epic poem'.'" The Btage can publish the voice and the actual flesh; yet from
the flhn these facts were eloquent enough without speech. And alter all when we see
people we are merely receiving in our eyes the light that beats baok from their surfaces;
we are seeing merely photographs and moving pictures.
I hail witnessed numberless photoplays unrolled, pictures of every sort and con-
dition of interest and value. I had soon elaborate "feature-tilms" occupying much time
and covering many scenes. But none of them approached the unbroken fascination of
"The Birth of a Nation."
The realism of this work is amazing; merely sit at a window and actually roll by.
The grandeur of mass and the minuteness of detail are unequalled in my experience.
And so the first impression of my first view of this was that it was something new and
wonderful in dramatic composition and in artistic achievement.
In his novel "The Clansman," the Rev. Thomas Dixon had made a fervid defence
of his people from the harsh judgments and condemnations of unsympathetic historians.
With this book as a foundation, David W. Griffith built up a structure of national scope
and of heroic proportions.
Of course, size has little to do with art. A perfect statuette like one of the exquisite
figurines of Tanagra is as great in a sense as the cathedral of Rheims. A flawless son-
net of Milton's need not yield place to his "Paradise Lost." A short story of Poe's has
nothing to fear from a cycle of Dumas novels, nor has "The Suwanee River" anything
to fear from the Wagnerian tetralogy.
And yet we cannot but feel that a higher power has created the larger work, since
the larger work includes the problems of the smaller; and countless others. The larger
work compels and tests the tremendous gifts of organization, co-ordination, selection,
One comes from this film saying: "I have done the South a cruel injustice, they
are all dead, these cruelly tried people, but I feel now that I know them as they were;
not as they ought to have been or might have been, but as they were; as I should prob-
ably have been in their place. I have seen them in their homes, in their pride and their
glory and I have seen what they went back to. I understand them better."
And after all what more vital mission has narrative and dramatic art than to make
us understand one another better?
Hardly anybody can be found today who is not glad that Slavery was wrenched
out of our national life, but it is not well to forget how and why it was defended, and by
whom; what it cost to tear it loose, or what suffering and bewilderment were left with
the bleeding wounds. The North was not altogether blameless for the existence of
slavery, nor was the South altogether blameworthy for it or for its aftermath. "The
Birth of a Nation" is a peculiarly human presentation of a vast racial tragedy.
There has been some hostility to the picture on account of an alleged injustice to
the negroes. I have not felt it; and I am one who cherishes a great affection and a pro-
found admiration for the negro. He is enveloped in one of the most cruel and insoluble
©EH. ROBT. K LEE'S LAST STAND ©N THE FAMOUS BATTLEFIELD OF PETERSBURG. VA,
riddles of history. His position is the more difficult since those who most ardently
endeavor to relieve him of his burdens are peculiarly apt to increase them.
"The Birth of a Nation" presents many lovable negroes who win hearty applause
from the audiences. It presents also some exceedingly hateful negroes. But American
history has the same fault and there are bad whites also in this film as well as virtuous.
It is hard to see how such a drama could be composed without the struggle of evil
against good. Furthermore, it is to the advantage of the negro of today to know how
some of his ancestors misbehaved and why the prejudices in his path have grown there.
Surely no friend of his is to be turned into an enemy by this film, and no enemy more
"The Birth of a Nation" is a chronicle of human passion. It is true to fact and
thoroughly documented. It is in no sense an appeal to lynch-law. The suppression of
it would be a dangerous precedent in American dramatic art.
If the authors are never to make use of plots which might offend certain sects, sec-
tions, professions, trades, races or political parties, then creative art is indeed in a sad
"Uncle Tom's Cabin" has had a long and influential career. Perhaps no book ever
written exerted such an effect on history. It was denounced with fury by the South as
a viciously unfair picture. It certainly stirred up feeling, and did more than perhaps
any other document to create and set in motion the invasion and destruction of the
southern aristocracy. Yet it was not suppressed because of its riot-provoking tenden-
cies. And it is well that it was not suppressed.
"The Birth of a Nation" has no such purpose. It is a picture of a former time.
All its phases are over and done, and most of the people of its time are in their graves.
But it is a brilliant, vivid, thrilling masterpiece of historical fiction. Thwarting its
prosperity would be a crime against creative art and a menace to its freedom. The
suppression of such fictional works has always been one of the chief instruments of
tyranny and one of the chief dangers of equality.
I saw the play first in a small projecting room with only half a dozen spectators
present. We sat mute and spellbound for three hours. When I learned that it had to
be materially condensed it seemed a pity to destroy one moment of it. The next time
I saw it was in a crowded theatre and it was accompanied by an almost incessant mur-
mur of approval and comment, roars of laughter, gasps of anxiety and outbursts of ap-
plause. It was not silent drama so far as the audience was concerned.
The scene changed with the velocity of lightning, of thought. One moment we saw
a vast battlefield with the enemies like midgets in the big world, the next we saw some
small group filling the whole space with its personal drama; then just one or two faces
big with emotion. And always a story was being told with every device of suspense,
preparation, relief, development, and crisis.
I cannot imagine a human emotion that is not included somewhere in this story
from the biggest national psychology to the littlest whim of a petulant girl; from the
lowest depths of ruthless villainy to the utmost grandeur of patriotic ideal.
All of the seven wonders of the world were big things. I feel that David W. Griffith
has done a big thing and he has a right to the garlands as well as the other emoluments.
"The Birth of a Nation" is a work of epochal importance in a large and fruitful field of
social endeavor. In paying it this tribute of profound homage, I feel that I am doing
only my duty by American art, merely rendering unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's.
A NATION IS BORN
MONG our fathers lived a poet-leader who dreamed a new
vision of humanity — that out of the ^conflicting interests and
character of thirteen American States, stretching their terri-
tories from the frosts of the north to the tropic jungles of
Florida, there could be built one mighty people. For eighty
years this vision remained a dream — sectionalism and dis-
unity the grimmest realities of our life.
Lord Cornwallis, the British Commander, had surrendered
at Yorktown, Virginia to the allied armies of the Kingdom of
France and the original thirteen States by name — New Hampshire, Massachusetts,
Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia,
Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. Through seventy-five years
of growth 'and conflict these States clung to their individual sovereignty, feeling with
jealous alarm the slow but resistless growth of a national spirit within the body of the
Federal Union. This new being was stirred at last into conscious life by Daniel Webster's
immortal words —
"LIBERTY AND UNION,
ONE AND INSEPARABLE,
NOW AND FOREVER!"
The issue, which our fathers had not dared to face — whether the State or the Union
should ultimately have supreme rule — was joined in 1861 over the problem of the Negro.
The South held with passionate conviction that we were a Republic of Republics,
each State free and sovereign. The North, under the leadership of Abraham Lincoln,
held that the Union was indestructible and its sovereignty supreme.
Until Lincoln's day the right of each State to peaceful secession was scarcely dis-
puted, North or South. New England had more than once threatened to withdraw
long before South Carolina in her blind rage led the way.
And yet, unconsciously, the new being within had grown into a living soul, and, in
the mortal agony of four years of Civil War and eight years of more horrible Recon-
struction, a Nation was born.
THK STORY OF THE PICTURE
HE PIR8T ship that broughl ;i cargo of African slaves
to North America Btarted the scries of troublous eve;,
preceding the birth of a great nation. Abolition
subsequently advocated, but the idea of social equality
never considered. The South declared it would
secede, if in 1SG0 a Republican president was elected
That president, Abraham Lincoln, issued a call for
75,000 volunteers. For the first time in American
annals he used the Federal power to subdue the
sovereignty of individual States.
The Stoneman boys of Pennsylvania had been
house guests at Piedmont, S. C, of their boarding-
school chums, the Cameron boys. Phil Stoneman and
Margaret Cameron, "fair as a flower," had looked,
longed and loved. Ben Cameron had never met Elsie
Stoneman, yet the daguerreotype of her he had pilfered
from Phil seemed about the dearest, sweetest thing in
the world. The younger lads of the two houses — too
young for sentiment and romance — frolicked like
friendly young colts. Most charming and lovable of
all the Cameron clan was the Doctor and Mrs.
Cameron's youngest daughter Flora.
When War casts its shadow over the land, Phil and Tod Stoneman are summoned
to fight for the Stars and Stripes; Ben Cameron and his two younger brothers, for the
Stars and Bars. The grim years drag along. Piedmont gayly enters the conflict, but
ruin and devastation follow. The town gets a foretaste of rapine and pillage in the raid
of a mixed body of white and colored guerillas against it. The scale of events inclines
to the Union cause. Southern wealth and resources are burned or commandeered by
Sherman in his march to the sea. Meantime two of the Cameron boys have perished
in battle, one of them face to face with his dying Chum Tod. Grant is pressing the Con-
federacy in the famous campaign around Petersburg. When Confederate supplies are
running low, one of their provision trains is cut off and the "little Colonel," Ben Cameron,
is called upon by Gen. Lee to lead a counter attack and thus, by diverting the enemy,
aid in the rescue of the train. We see the panorama of a battlefield flung over many
miles of mountain and valley, the opposing intrenchments and the artillery fire, Col.
Cameron and his men forming for the advance, their charge over broken ground, the
grim harvest of death that swept most of them away, the bayonet rush of the devoted
few right up to the trenches, the physical hand-grapple with the enemy, and Cameron,
sole survivor, gaining the crest of the Federal works and falling wounded into the arms of
Capt. Phil Stoneman, U. S. A., his erstwhile bosom friend. Prisoner in a Washington
hospital, Ben Cameron slowly recovers from his wound. Like an angel of mercy Elsie
Stoneman, Phil's sister, appears in the role of a volunteer nurse. Poor Ben falls des-
perately in love with her whose picture he had carried about for years. She and Ben's
mother visit Lincoln, "the Great Heart," who clears the "little Colonel" of an odious
charge and hands Mrs. Cameron the boy's papers of release.
It seemed to Austin Stoneman, leader of Congress and Elsie's parent, that Lincoln
was pursuing too mild a policy with the prostrate South. "I shall treat them as if they
had never been away" was Lincoln's gentle answer to Stoneman's demand that the
leaders be hanged and measures of reprisal adopted. What was there in Stoneman's life
that made him so bitter to the Southern whites? Stoneman purposed to establish the
complete political and social equality of the negroes. He was grooming a half-breed
protege, one Silas Lynch, to go South as the "leader of his people."
The War ends in 1865 with the encirclement of the Southern army and the sur-
render of Robert E. Lee to U. S. Grant in the historic house at Appomattox Courthouse-
There follows a terrible tragedy — the assassination of President Lincoln by Wilkes Booth
in the crowded scene of a festival performance at Ford's Theatre on April 14, 1865. The
South feels — and feels truly — that it has lost its best friend.
A few years later comes the real aftermath. Austin Stoneman, now supreme through
the Congressional power of over-riding President Johnson's veto, goes south to supervise
his "equality" programme. Elsie accompanies him, and so does Phil. They arrive in
Piedmont and take a house next door to the Camerons. Elsie accepts the gallant little
Confederate colonel, Ben Cameron, but the shadows of war-time hang too heavily over
Margaret Cameron to permit her to make up at once with Phil. Meanwhile the reign
of the carpet-baggers begins. The "Union League," so-called, wins the ensuing State
election. Silas Lynch, the mulatto, is chosen Lieutenant-Governor. A legislature, with
carpet-bag and negro members in overwhelming majority, loots the State. Lawlessness
runs riot. Whites are elbowed off the streets, overawed at the polls, and often despoiled
of their possessions. Ben Cameron then leads the white men of the country in organiz-
ing the "invisible empire" of the Ku Klux Klan. Devoted women of the South make
the white, ghost-like costumes behind locked doors. Austin Stoneman boils with rage
over this newest development. Lynch's spies bring evidence that the garments are be-
ing made by the Camerons and that Ben Cameron is night-riding. Stoneman bids Elsie
to disavow her "traitorous" lover, and she, astonished and wounded that Ben is engaged
is such work, gives him back his troth.
Little Flora Cameron, the joy and pride of the Cameron household, was sought
after by the renegade family servant Gus, who had become a militiaman and joined
Lynch's crew. Often had Flora been warned by her brother and parents never to go
alone to the spring in the woods hard by the cliff called Lover's Leap. Little heeding the
admonition, she took her pail one day and started off. Gus the renegade followed.
Frightened by his approach, the little girl broke into a run. Gus ran too. Colonel
Cameron, learning that she had gone alone, hastened forth and was the third person in
the chase. Desperately the little girl zigzagged this way and that, dodging the burly
pursuer, then, almost cornered, she climbed to the jutting edge of Lover's Leap whence,
as Gus approached nearer, she leaped to her death. Brother 3en discovered the poor
dying girl a few minutes later. Gus escaped, but he was afterwards captured, tried and
se-:sr[v£a.n's marsh to the ska- refugees flee:kg froih i ;ta
THE DOMING OF BHOTHEHLY LCTE r&JTO THE HALLS ©? PEACE
found guilty. Then the Ku Klnx Klan sent a messenger to the Titan of the adjoining
county asking for re-inforcements to overawe the carpet-baggers and negroes.
The next outrage upon the unhappy family was the arrest of Dr. Cameron for having
harbored the clansmen. As the soldiers were parading him to jail, Phil Stoneman, now
a warm sympathizer with the southerons, and some others organized a rescue party.
They beat down the militia; the Doctor and his wife, Margaret, Phil and the faithful
servants fled out into the country where they found refuge and warm hospitality in the
log cabin of two Union veterans. The cabin was fortified and preparations were made
against the militia's attack.
We must now leave the handful of whites defending the log cabin from the militia-
men and visit Lieutenant-Governor Lynch's mansion in Piedmont. Miss Elsie Stone-
man is there on the errand of appealing to Lynch, the "friend" of her father in behalf
of her brother and the Camerons. But instead Lynch siezes this opportunity to declare
his "love" for his patron's beautiful daughter, says he will make her queen of his empire,
and orders a negro chaplain to be sent for to perform a forced marriage. At this crucial
moment, word is received of Congressman Stoneman's return. Lynch goes out to tell
him that he (Lynch) aspires to the hand of the white man's daughter. Then Stoneman,
the "social equalizer," the theoretical upholder of the intermarriage of blacks and whites,
finds all his theories upset by the personal fact. Rage and storm as he will, Stoneman
too is helpless. There is but one hope anywhere in prospect — the courageous and chi-
valric host of Ku Klux riding for dear life towards Piedmont.
Ben Cameron, the "little Colonel," is at their head. They are armed to the teeth
and pledged to victory or death. As they rush the little mountain town, their guns mow
down the militia troops opposing them; the Lynch mansion is taken, and Ben and his
men bursting into the room free the Stonemans, Ben taking the overjoyed Elsie in his
arms. But there is other work afoot. Quickly a detachment of the clansmen remount
and hurry to the scene of the attack of the cabin. The little party within its besieged
walls are almost at the last gasp. The militia raiders are forcing the doors, already half
a dozen of them have gained the inside of the cabin, when the crack! crack! crack! of
the Ku Klux rifles announce rescue and safety. The surprise attack routs the raiders
completely, and the men and women of the party hug and kiss their deliverers.
There is little left to tell. To Ben and Elsie, to Phil and Margaret, the sequel is
a beautiful double honeymoon by the sea. To the American people, the outcome of
four years of fratricidal strife, the nightmare of Reconstruction, and the establishment
of the South in its rightful place, is the birth of a new nation. Lincoln's plan of restoring
the negroes to Africa was dreamed of only, never carried out. The new nation, the real
United States, as the years glided by, turned away forever from the blood-lust of War
and anticipated with hope the world-millenium in which a brotherhood of love should
bind all the nations together.
"THE BIRTH OF A NATION"
There are over 5,000 distinct scenes in "The Birth of a Nation."
18,000 people and 3,000 horses were Utilized in making the narrative.
Mr. Griffith worked for s months without a let np to complete the picture.
The approximate cost of the production was $500,000. The women's dresses of
the period of I860 u^h\ np 12,000 yards of cloth. Over 25,000 yards of white material
were sewed into the costumes of the Ku Klux Klans.
200 seamstresses worked for two months to make these costumes historically cor-
rect and appropriately picturesque.
5,000 works and reports on the history of the Civil War and the periods immedi-
ately leading up to and following the great conflict were searched for authentic data.
This research was conducted by four college professors specially engaged upon it.
Every piece of ordnance or musketry in the battle scenes is an exact reproduction
of the artillery and arms used on both sides during the war of the 60's.
For the assassination of President Lincoln, Ford's Theatre, Washington, was re-
produced to the smallest detail. The scene itself was taken in the presence of several
eye witnesses of the actual occurrence. These witnesses were in Ford's Theatre the night
John Wilkes Booth's shot laid the great Lincoln low.
To depict the ravages of Sherman's March to the Sea, a city was specially built,
only to be destroyed before the eyes of the spectators of the picture.
$10,000 a day was paid for the use of an entire county in order to reproduce the
wild rides of the Klansmen.
West Point engineers laid out the great battle scene of Petersburg from maps and
reports in the War Department at Washington. Intimate details of the action supplied
by veterans who fought on either side.
Night photography was perfected for the first time to secure battle scenes in the
dark. This detail cost $5,000.
Great artillery duels actually reproduced. Specially prepared shells exploded at a
cost of $80 each.
A commissary and two hospital corps were maintained while the pictures were be-
ing taken. Not a human life was lost.
A musical score for 40 pieces composed and minutely synchronized to several thou-
sand individual scenes.
The condensed production represents 12,000 feet of film. Nearly 200,000 feet of
film was originally taken.
Recognition of a New Art
"The Birth of a Nation" as presented by Mr. D. W. Griffith in New York City was a revelation that
raised the standard of motion pictures one thousand per cent, in a night. It was a radical departure to
present this photographic spectacle in one of the first-class metropolitan theatres which had never been
used for a motion picture production before. A further daring achievement was to present the work at
the same scale of prices charged for the finest dramatic offerings on the New York stage. The reception
of the production was quite as unusual. All the recognized New York critics attended the opening per-
formance, many for the first time writing a serious review of a picture drama. The chorus of praise
was unanimous as well as astonishing. This united verdict was but a repetition of the wonderful things
said of the work by men in every walk of life. U. S. Senators, Congressmen, artists, writers, illustrators,
diplomats, historians, clergymen, in fact men of every profession expressed their appreciation in no
uncertain terms. A few extracts from this world-wide chorus will serve to illustrate the case:
"It shows war as it actually is."
—Richard Harding Davis
"In the short space of three hours the audience
sees, hears and feels a period of fifteen years."
— Rev. Father John Talbot Smith
"It will take the whole country by storm."
— Booth Tarkington
"I know it is true because I lived through the
actual realities it depicts."
— Rev. Thomas B. Gregory
"It is worth $5 a seat." — N .Y '.Evening Journal
"You see, as the angels looking down from Heaven
must have seen, exactly what took place fifty
years ago." —Dorothy Dix
"The biggest attraction of the season. It brings
the audiences to their feet as no theatrical play
has in many, many years."
—James S. Metcalfe, in Life
"The most glorious accomplishment in any art
I have ever seen."
—Governor Hiram Johnson of California
"Only a genius could have conceived and pro-
duced such an inspiring spectacle."
— Amy Leslie, Chicago Daily News
"The true greatness of the picture lies in its
emotional appeal." —New York News
"A new epoch in the art is reached."
— New York Herald
"It is big and fine." — Evening World
"Wins popularity because of its thrilling war
scenes." —New York Tribune
"A masterpiece of a new form of art."
— Chicago Tribune
'■ '/ i
«. 9k >
"Never before has such a combination of spec-
tacle and tense drama been seen." _w. Y. Sun
"Achieved a striking degree of success."
— New York Times
'Made a profound impression.
-N. Y. Press
"Swept a sophisticated audience like a prairie
fire before a whirlwind." —New York Mail
"Beyond doubt the most extraordinary picture
that has been seen." —New York Globe